By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
A man suspected of robbing the homes of people he knew while they attended Sunday morning church services now faces an additional charge of residential burglary.
Chad Cruz, 37, of 506 Caesar Rd., was arrested on Jan 24, and charged with two residential burglaries in the county. Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department investigator Scott Wagner’s investigation into the crimes determined Cruz may have burglarized homes of people he knew while they were attending Sunday morning church services and stolen jewelry, said Maj. Donnie Saucier.
Cruz was arrested originally on two charges of residential burglary and a count of grand larceny stemming from an industrial paint sprayer he allegedly took from a former employer in a separate incident.
Saucier said after community members learned of Cruz’ arrest, the department received a call on Wednesday that another family suspected Cruz could be responsible for a burglary at their home, since the man had been to the home in the past. They reported the crime to department several months ago, but at the time there were no suspects or leads, Saucier said. However, the burglary at the home matched the two burglaries Cruz is charged with, including the theft of jewelry and that the crime occurred while the family was attending church on a Sunday morning, Saucier said.
Due to the similarities in the cases and that some of the jewelry recovered from a St. Tammany Parish scrap gold businesses was still unclaimed, Wagner asked the victims of this crime in to the sheriff’s office to see if they could identify some of the jewelry, Saucier said. He said the victims were able to identify some of the jewelry recovered as theirs, which had been taken in the burglary.
Saucier said it has come to the department’s attention that Cruz did not focus on people who attended just one church. He said the suspect may have focused on people who attended other churches as well. Saucier said that possibly Cruz is responsible for other unsolved burglaries where jewelry was stolen, most likely on Sunday mornings. However, those clues are not limiting factors in the investigation into Cruz, so Saucier asks any county resident who was the victim of a residential burglary to call Wagner at 601-403-2544 to see if Cruz could be a suspect.
Cruz is now being held on three counts of residential burglary, Saucier said.
It is unclear if his bond has been increased in light of the new charge from the earlier reported amount of $14,000 cash.